Filing for bankruptcy is a scary prospect, even if you do so voluntarily. There are several different chapters, each with different rules. Hiring qualified bankruptcy lawyers can make the process easier and protect you from your creditors. However, it can be difficult to choose the best attorney for your case. Ask these four questions to get answers that can help you decide.
Do you charge a flat-fee to represent me?
Hiring any attorney costs money. This is particularly troubling when you are considering filing for insolvency, as money is the cause of the problem in the first place. Some legal practitioners bill by the hour. The good news is that most bankruptcy lawyers charge a flat fee for the entire course of representation. Typically, this fee will include consulting with you and analyzing your circumstances, preparing and filing the necessary documents, and representing you during the insolvency proceedings. Sometimes, creditors challenge the bankruptcy. Other times, creditors can still come in and foreclose on a home. Often, the flat-fee does not cover these additional situations. Before choosing from several bankruptcy lawyers, make sure you understand each attorney’s fee arrangement.
Is bankruptcy your primary line of work?
Any licensed attorney can help you file the required paperwork. However, insolvency proceedings involve complex areas of law that do not apply anywhere else. Moreover, deciding what chapter to file involves a detailed analysis of your individual financial situation and expectations. Even a seasoned legal practitioner whose primary work is bringing tort claims or structuring commercial transactions will generally not have the knowledge and skills necessary to adequately protect you from your creditors. You need a legal practitioner who is devoted to handling insolvency cases.
What can I expect from you regarding communication?
It is important to find a legal practitioner whose practice is primarily devoted to handling insolvency cases, but it is equally important to find a legal practitioner who will devote individual attention to your case, because determining the best course of action requires a detailed analysis of your financial situation. You should know how long the legal practitioner will devote to reviewing your situation, how quickly your phone calls will be returned, how frequently the lawyer will update you on case progress, when you can expect pertinent documents to be drafted, and what efforts your advocate will make to cease the creditors’ collection efforts.
Will you have staff who assist you on my case?
Bankruptcy lawyers have a substantial number of clients and will not always be directly available to work on your case. There will be routine matters that will need attention, but do not necessarily require the personal attention of the attorney. It is important that the attorney have staff or junior lawyers available to work on the case when the primary legal practitioner is not directly available. However, you should also make sure that the attorney handling the case will personally review the work of junior lawyers and non-attorney staff members.